SCANDINAVIAN FILM FESTIVAL
In 2022, the Scandinavian Film Festival is celebrating its eighth edition, which shows just how popular the annual event has become in Australia. Once again, it contains an excellent program of contemporary cinema from all five Nordic Film Institutes (representing Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), selected from various international film festivals. The line-up includes new releases, classics from the past, dramas, historical epics and comedies, plus a number of films focusing on issues of coming-of-age and the preparation and consumption of food.
The Opening Night film on Tuesday 12 July in Sydney (and in other states in the days and weeks following - check the website for local details) features Charlotte Sieling’s Margrete - Queen Of The North, a magnificent saga about one of the most powerful women in Nordic history. Sieling is well-known to Australian television viewers for her work on Borgen, The Killing and The Bridge and she directed and co-wrote “this piercing character study [which] carries a contemporary poignancy, as it encapsulates the difficult choices a female leader has to make in a world bounded by patriarchal control.” - The Guardian. It features a powerful lead performance from Trine Dyrholm as the titular queen.
A Special Presentation is Mikko Myllylahti’s The Woodcutter Story. This dark comedy is a somewhat surreal film reminiscent of the work of Swedish director Roy Andersson. Set in a small snow-covered town in northern Finland, it shows a period in the life of eternal optimist Pepe, a man who keeps smiling while everything around him goes to pieces. The Centrepiece program is Erik Poppe’s new version of The Emigrants, a 2021 remake of Jan Troell’s classic 1971 period-drama. It’s set in the mid-19th century, when millions of Scandinavians made the long and dangerous journey across the Atlantic in the hope of finding a better life in the USA. As a bonus, the Closing Night film is Troell’s 1972 film The New Land, the sequel to the original The Emigrants (which was last year’s Closing Night film).
Another Special Event features Annika Appelin’s Tuesday Club, a romantic comedy about three women who share their secrets and passion for food when they join a cooking class led by a renowned chef. Other food-themed films are A Taste of Hunger, a drama about a young couple’s desperate desire to earn a Michelin star for their restaurant, and the documentary Nordic by Nature, which takes us inside KOKS, a two-star Michelin restaurant on the Danish Faroe Islands that sources all of its produce from the island.
Three films examining the highs and lows of teenagers’ coming-of-age are Pretty Young Thing, a drama from Denmark about six friends facing challenges at a new school, the Swedish movie Comedy Queen, which follows a 13-year-old girl who decides to become a stand-up comedian in response to the death of her mother, and So Damn Easy Going, a Norwegian/Swedish co-pro that examines the difficulties faced by a teenage girl suffering from ADHD.
In addition, the festival has a terrific side-bar called Scandi Sirens, made up of four classic movies starring four screen queens from the North: Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Liv Ullman and Britt Ekland. The films featured are Rouben Mamoulian’s Queen Christina (1933), Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942), Ingmar Bergman’s The Serpent’s Egg (1977) and Robin Hardy’s cult classic The Wicker Man (1973).
So, once more, the Scandinavian Film Festival offers a delicious smörgåsbord of cinematic treats from the Nordic regions, perfect for the winter months of July and August. There are 22 titles in all, so everyone should be able to find something that suits their taste. Rug up and enjoy!